Nowhere to hide: Soca wields new powers in attempt to freeze assets of jailed Israeli tycoon Israel Perry

A bitter dispute between an Israeli tycoon and the UK’s Soca highlights the difficulty of freezing the proceeds of crime across global jurisdictions

Expanded police powers to freeze the worldwide assets of oligarchs and the super-rich are being used for the first time in a bitter dispute between a jailed Israeli tycoon and the United Kingdom’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

For the past four years Israel Perry, an Israeli businessman who has been convicted of pensions fraud, has been locked in an acrimonious struggle over Soca’s determination to confiscate his London properties, assets and global investments.

Last year the Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal for Soca to seize his possessions outside the UK. The court declared that the agency had over-reached its authority and could only freeze his UK assets, which include two £10m houses in Mayfair, London, and substantial commercial office-blocks on Cornhill and Leadenhall Street in the City.

Soca’s response was to persuade the Government to introduce an amendment to the Crime and Courts Act. The amendment, which came into force this summer, enables officers to apply to freeze the worldwide assets of businessmen whom they are investigating – not just their UK holdings – but only if there are assets in the UK. Soca has now applied to the High Court again to freeze Perry’s worldwide assets.

The new regulations could have serious implications for the international super-rich who have moved to London and invested their wealth in the UK, and then get into trouble with the law. It means that Soca can freeze the worldwide assets of, say, a Russian oligarch or a Middle Eastern plutocrat if they have some connection to the UK.

In documents seen by The Independent, Soca officials say that they are freezing Perry’s assets because they derive from the theft for which the businessman was convicted in Israel. Soca officials claim that he  was found guilty of fraud offences.

But lawyers for Perry told this newspaper that their client was framed and evidence was fabricated against him. They also deny that there were any proceeds from the theft. The Supreme Court of Israel ruled that what was stolen was the difference between what clients paid for insurance and a market premium for insuring their lives.

One of the expert witnesses argued that none of the clients paid more for insurance than would have been charged by an independent insurance company. While this relates to the Israeli case, it has implications for the UK proceedings. “If there are no proceeds of crime, then what can Soca possibly recover?” argued a source close to Perry. “We also believe that Soca officers are motivated by performance-related bonuses based on the value of their recovery of assets.”

Soca’s official accounts state that the agency “participates in the incentivisation scheme whereby Soca and referring law enforcement agencies receive a portion of the remittances, treated as income, as an incentive to build their asset recovery capacity... The percentage of incentivisation is set up by the Home Office, currently 50 per cent.”

But this was dismissed by a Soca spokesperson who said: “This is inaccurate. Soca officers do not receive bonuses based on the value of recovered assets.”

Perry is currently suffering from colon cancer and is being treated in Israel. But he has agreed to be cross-examined and on 8 October Soca barristers and officials will interview the controversial businessman in Israel.

Lawyers for Perry in the UK told The Independent: “Soca’s claim appears to rely heavily on the Israeli district court decision. I have real doubts that an English court, when looking at the same facts, will uphold those conclusions.

“The UK court will be invited to calculate the actual amount by which any sums were overcharged by Mr Perry. There is strong independent evidence that there was no overcharging. The UK court will be surprised that the Israeli court has never examined that point, although I understand that the Israeli court has now been asked to do so in a petition for a re-trial.”

Last week a group of five Soca officials and lawyers spent four days in Israel as part of their investigation. A spokesperson for Soca – whose chairman, Sir Ian Andrews, resigned recently in an unrelated conflict of interest – declined to comment on individual cases, but said: “Soca determines the best legal approach on a case-by-case basis. It will be for the country receiving a request [to recover assets] to decide whether or not to accept the request.

“Criminals will always attempt to exploit international borders. International collaboration is vital for the denial of profits to criminals, and to protect the UK.”

Mark Hollingsworth is the author of “Londongrad”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick